Are Fenerbahce potential Europa League champions?
Fenerbahce are through to the Europa League semi-finals - can they go all the way and win it?
As Fenerbahce striker Dirk Kuyt stabbed home a 90th-minute rebound against a Lazio side that had been reduced to ten men early in the second half, the Sukru Saracoglu Stadium erupted.
The Turkish side had earned a convincing 2-0 over the Italian opponents, placing them as strong favourites to progress into the Europa League semi-finals; however, little is known about this effective, successful Fenerbahce side - despite them possessing a backbone of past Premier League
Having finished top of a group containing Marseille and Borussia Monchengladbach, Fenerbahce are captained by former Newcastle and Atletico Madrid playmaker Emre Belozoglu and boast a solid defence of former Everton captain Joseph Yobo, Juventus loanee Reto Zeigler and eccentric Turkey goalkeeper Volkan Demirel. Complete with Turkey right-back Gokhan Gonul, the Turkish side epitomise power and precision that has seen them concede just 30 goals in the Super Lig, currently second and four points away from Champions League contenders Galatasary.
Fenerbahce’s defence has been pivotal to their Europa League progression, beating FC Victoria Plzen and BATE Borisov without looking clinical in attack. The Turks resilience is reinforced with former Chelsea midfielder Raul Meireles thriving within an attacking role alongside Emre and four-time Super Lig champion Selcuk Sahin. It is no surprise that this side present a concern for any strike-force, and when referring to a quarter-finals in which no other team were able to display a clean sheet.
Despite Fenerbahce demonstrating a strong, disciplined defence, the element of surprise is radiated through their attacking options. With the clinical finishing of Kuyt, the flare of Brazilian winger Christian and the terrifying pace of former wingers Miroslav Stoch and former Juventus flop Milos Krasic, Fenerbahce possess attacking options in midfield galore.
However, as witnessed by the latter, performances can regularly be inconsistent and unpredictable. Fenerbahce have yet to send chills down the spines of many European defences yet it could be argued they have yet had to.
Amongst the erratic form of certain players, Fenerbahce’s strike-partnership of Pierre Webo and Moussa Sow holds a lot of potential. Purchased from Lille for £10m, Sow has 15 goals to his name this season with the ability that has seen Premier League sides such as Liverpool and Tottenham reportedly eying up his performances. In addition to Sow’s threat, Cameroonian Pierre Webo has scored six goals in 10 since his £3m move from Istanbul BB.
The combined strike-force, when operating within a defensively sound side is undeniably worthy of Europa League greatness. Should they progress, the Turks will have one side standing in the way of a place in the final - and going by current form, the competition underdogs may have a say yet.
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